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The Curse of Fault Awareness
How often do we react with wonder and delight when a delivery order is correct? Or when the computer functions normally? Or when a fellow co-worker properly does their job?
Probably rarely. Perhaps never.
Yet how quickly do we glaringly notice the inverse? When the order is screwed up. The laptop hangs. Our co-worker drops the ball.
Not only are we competently cognizant of mistakes, but we make a big deal out of them. Often vociferously complaining to others, “Can you believe this happened?!”
Why do we notice the errors and yet pay little attention to their lack?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from the curse of fault awareness. If there’s a typo in an article or book - it will leap off the page and into the pit of my stomach. A plot hole or grammatical blunder in a novel shatters the author’s (and editor’s) integrity.
When I was a young boy, a popular TV jingle for a brand of beer chimed: "I ain't gonna bore my taste no more - gonna have me a Genny Cream.”
My juvenile indignance led me to write the Genesee Brewing Company that not only was “ain’t” not a word, but their use of a double-negative implied Genesee Cream Ale indeed bored their consumers.
It made no difference that I had never tasted beer nor knew a lick about marketing. All that mattered was that someone was wrong. And it was my solemn job to make them aware.
While most people don’t suffer from fault awareness to the same degree, we all notice errors and shortcomings with strikingly greater clarity than we do their absence. And there’s a reason that’s true.
The ego's purpose is to capture us with captivating drama. To keep us out of the mind - a literal state of mindlessness.
And errors, mistakes, faults - they are effortlessly noticed. Who did this? Why did this happen? Who should be punished?
The irony, of course, is that it’s far easier to see the imperfections and misdeeds in others than ourselves. But this, too, is purposive. Maintaining the misguided belief that the world and other people are the source of our joys and pains.
Our sense of justice and smug contentment are easily threatened by lines like this from A Course in Miracles:
If you point out the errors of your brother’s ego you must be seeing through yours, because the Holy Spirit does not perceive his errors. (T-9.III.3)
And yet, there is a way of seeing our brothers and sisters that leads to peace for all — even in the midst of what one might call corrective action. Our fault finding fury replaced with a radiant warmth.
Join me in Thursday’s class where we’ll explore the dubious nature of fault awareness and how we can make a different choice to experience a far better outcome. I look forward to seeing you then.